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MEASUREMENT 2009, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference, Smolenice, Slovakia

SFRA Method - Frequency Analysis of Transformers

M. Gutten, 1M. Brandt, 2R. Polansk, 2P. Prosr
Dept of Measurements and Applied Electrical Engineering,
University of ilina, Slovak republic
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, ZU Plze, Czech republic

Abstract. This article deals with a description of methods of an experimental analysis

concerning the actual condition of windings and magnetic circuit of the transformer, which is
required in power distribution companies all over the world.
Keywords: transformer, frequency analysis, measurement methods

1. Introduction
Considering a significance of power transformers in the electric system, their price and
possible damages arising in accidents, it is necessary to pay attention to higher prevention of
these devices. Windings of power transformers should be designed to avoid various
mechanical or thermal deteriorations caused by short-circuit currents occurring in operation.
Besides the permanent deformation effects of short-circuit current, there is also gradual aging
process of the electrical device, which can worsen its mechanical properties. Heat shocks can
cause decrease of mechanical strength of transformer and consequent unexpected damage of
transformer during the operation.
To prevent a damage state of transformers, we perform different types of the measurements
that should illustrate an actual condition of the measured equipment. It is therefore important
to choose a suitable diagnostics for the right prediction of such conditions.

2. Theory of SFRA method and its importance in transformer diagnostics

SFRA method belongs to current most effective analyses and allows to detect the influences
of short-circuit currents, overcurrents and other effects damaging either winding or magnetic
circuit of the transformer. This all can be performed without a necessity of decomposition of
device and subsequent winding damage determination, which is very time consuming.
The method of the high-frequency analysis (Sweep Frequency Response Analysis SFRA
[2]) is also one of the methods of undisassembling diagnostics of transformers. No
intervention to the construction of tested device is demanded, the whole measurement is per-
formed on detached device (not under the voltage). This method is applicable mainly for de-
termination and measuring immediately after the manufacturing of device, i.e. for measuring
of reference values. These parameters are consequently compared to the other measurements
performed on the transformer, which is decommissioned, after the damages or revisions of
transformer etc.
There is possible to detect by SFRA:
a deformation of winding and its movements or a partial breakdown of winding,
a short-circuited turn or opened winding,
a loose and a damaged switching system,
a core connection problem and a core movement or its wrong grounding.

MEASUREMENT 2009, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference, Smolenice, Slovakia

Results measured on the new transformer can be used as the reference parameters for further
comparison with values measured later after certain operation time of the transformer. They
can be also compared with the test results performed after the transformer breakdown (or after
the n-short-circuits) or repair or it can be used as a diagnostic test, when vibration sensors
indicate some potential problem in transformer.
According to [3] SFRA method determines the transformer responses in a time or frequency
area. The time response measurement provides curve determination of the time response to
the specific voltage impulse applied to winding input connection. The frequency response
measurement consists in determination of amplitude eventually phase response to the
harmonic voltage of variable frequency applied to winding input. While the time response is
the record of time behavior of voltage, frequency response is the amplitude response
dependence on frequency.
A relation between the response and the winding condition is definite, otherwise it is
complicated. It is impossible to expect the assessment of concrete damage of winding from
differences in response behaviors. The measurement results lead us only to a statement of the
fact that some change of winding condition really occurred. Such test results are very helpful
to decide, whether it is unavoidable to open and revise the transformer or not.

3. Measuring principles
The frequency response characteristics of windings can be obtained using either the impulse
frequency response analysis (IFRA) method in the time domain or the sweep frequency
response analysis (SFRA) method in the frequency domain [4]. In principle the two methods
give the same results if the same connection method is used. However a frequency domain
measurement using a method which records the ratio of the input and output voltages over the
frequency range by using a sequence of narrow band spot measurements has been found to be
particularly suitable for obtaining measurements in an electrically noisy environment. Making
a series of narrow band measurements increases the signal to noise ratio and the dynamic
range available. Measuring only at the exciting frequency also prevents any non-linearity of
the test object (not usually a problem at the small signal levels employed) from affecting
measurements at different frequencies. The measurement using this technique is conveniently
made using a network analyser or similar instrument. This produces a frequency-varying
sinusoidal voltage signal, applied to one terminal of the test winding with the input voltage
being measured by a separate cable at that terminal and the response to this input measured at
another terminal.
The three FRA measurements (SFRA or IFRA) connection methods most commonly
employed in the industry are chosen for comparison [4]. These FRA connection methods are
identified as:
a) End-to-end voltage ratio measurement (FRAee)
b) Input admittance measurement (FRAad)
c) Transfer voltage ratio measurement (FRAtr)
FRA measurements can be expressed using terminal voltages and currents as shown in Fig. 1.
All measuring cables are terminated with matching impedance of the cable, Rc (typically 50
) and the winding terminal voltages are measured across Rc as shown in Fig. 1. For input
admittance measurement, a resistive impedance r (typically r = Rc) is used to measure the
input current.

MEASUREMENT 2009, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference, Smolenice, Slovakia

a) End-to-end voltage ratio b) Input admittance c) Transfer voltage ratio

Fig. 1. Test connection for FRA (SFRA or IFRA) measurements.

4. Behaviors of transformer winding responses by SFRA method

The behaviour of transformer winding response reflects e.g. electromagnetic couplings
between the winding and transformer tank, also between the primary and secondary
(eventually tertiary) winding, between the windings of particular phases or be-tween turns
themselves of particular windings.
The power transformer measurement requires a setting up of the frequency range from 10 Hz
to 2 MHz (Fig. 2), whereas there is necessary to follow the right measuring technique to
prevent various inaccuracies and faults. Input parameter of measuring system is voltage with
value 10 V and its output parameter is current response (090 dB) to change impedance for
respective default frequency.

Fig. 2. Magnitude Chart of three-winding transformer by M5100 measuring system

During the open circuit tests a mechanical condition of tested winding and ferromagnetic core
is detected. The following curves typical for this measurement provide us important

MEASUREMENT 2009, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference, Smolenice, Slovakia

information about changes in the core, which are visible in low frequencies, while higher
frequencies refer to problems such as winding movements or turn-to-turn fault.
The application of analysis of phase attenuation depending on frequency is suitable for more
complete evaluation of winding condition. This analysis enables to assess the processes of
winding movements during the particular short-circuits influences.
Problems with core grounding or shorted laminates in the core will typically change the shape
of the lowest section of the curve (to 10 kHz). Mid frequencies (from 10 kHz to 200 kHz)
represent axial or radial movements in the windings and high frequencies indicate problems
such as e. g. winding knocking or problems with contacts.
During the short circuit tests only the winding condition in primary or secondary part of trans-
former is detected. This measurement notifies reliably of deformation of inner winding and its
movement as a result effects of short-circuit currents.

5. Conclusions
Problem of the frequency analysis of transformers by SFRA method is very comprehensive
and its application becomes interesting for many transformer manufacturers and operators.
From the long-term point of view the SFRA method is supposed to be very useful and it
provides enough information on tested transformers. These transformers have their reference
data obtained by the manufacturers, suitable for the comparison with further data of particular
SFRA testing method represents one of the most effective alternative diagnostic methods
compared to visual check. This method allows to detect the effects of the short-circuit
currents, whereas we are able to evaluate the mechanical strength action on the transformer
winding during previous operation It is also possible to identify the specific winding phase,
which has been mostly influenced by the short-circuit currents, without a necessity of trans-
former dividing, which would be very time consuming.
There is also possible to identify the size of parameters of other electric machines as well as
the position of their resonance frequency from particular curves (analysis of damage

This work was supported by the Grant Agency VEGA from the Ministry of Education of
Slovak Republic under contract 1/0548/09.

[1] Gutten M., Brandt M., Polansk R., Prosr P.: High-frequency analysis of three-winding
autotransformers 400/121/34 kV, ADVANCES in EEE, No.1-2, 7/2008, ilina, Slovakia
[2], 15. 1. 2007.
[3] Kvasnika V., Prochzka R., Velek J.: Verification of method frequency characteristics in
control room of distribution system Czech Republic, In Diagnostika 05, Plze 2005, CR
[4] Jayasinghe J.A.S.B., Wang Z.D., Jarman P.N., Darwin A.W.: The Winding Movement in
Power Transformers: A Comparison of FRA Measurement Connection Methods. IEEE
Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Vol. 13, No. 6; 2006, Canada
[5] Kdelk J.: Generation of breakdown in the liqiud dielectrics, 16.Conference of Slovak
Physics, 2007, ilina, Slovakia